The Tau team that will row 100 kilometres in the Ringvaart Regatta this year. Photo | Noah Tabor

Rowing a hundred kilometers to fight Alzheimer’s

This year should see it happen: rowing in an eight - plus cox - a hundred kilometers straight in the Ringvaart Regatta. Seven Mechanical Engineering students, members of Tau rhetoric society, and two of their Tau-friends will be taking up this challenge on Wednesday June 6. Their aim: to collect money for Alzheimer Nederland.

photo Noah Tabor

Dennis Volleberg knows from experience how dreadful Alzheimer's is; last year he lost both his grandfathers to the disease. “Which charity we'd support by doing this challenge was something we discussed in advance. I was absolutely sure it should be Alzheimer Nederland.”

Last year a group from Tau rhetoric society entered the hundred- kilometer rowing trip, but the event was cancelled due to bad weather. The  men rowed an alternative trip so that they could still collect the money promised to charity.

Closed sluice

Volleberg was in last year's crew, as were three other of this year's team members. “It took us 16 hours to complete the alternative trip. We had some problems with a sluice that was closed.”

This year the crew expects to be able to finish the regatta in twelve hours: “Assuming an average of 10 kilometers an hour and some breaks, that should be doable. We have done more training this year, and have some really practiced rowers in our team.”

Marloes van Nuland is the team's coach and cox. “I am worried that she is going to push us like crazy, as a coach she is fanatical. But she always manages to motivate us,” says Volleberg. The eight often trains by rowing to Helmond, to ‘marker post 0’. “That is a training session covering 22 kilometers, there and back. It's not the total course, but just like for a marathon you don't go the full distance in training. For the remainder you draw on your character.”

Giving up

Despite the training sessions, it will be hard work, knows Volleberg from experience. “When the going gets tough there's no point complaining. You simply shut up and row, and eventually you get there. Giving up is not an option.” After the race, a festival in Delft awaits the rowers, but Volleberg does not expect them to get in the swing of it. “Last year I was so tired!”

Now the crew's main aim is to get some more kilometers under their belts and get their hands rubbed with camphor spirit to dry out the skin. “Walkers rub it into their feet to prevent blisters.” Followed by a laugh, “Hearing myself saying this, it's actually a really bad idea, isn't it? Still, we're going do it!”

The Tau rowers - besides Volleberg and cox Van Nuland they are Sebastiaan van Kemenade, Alexander Wessel, Bas Raes, Rik van Stratum, Bart Verhaegh, Otto van de Ven and Yuri Copal - hope to collect two thousand euros for their charity. On their site you can choose one of their kilometers to sponsor. That costs 25 euros. Keep updated via their facebook page. This year a total of 160 boats are taking part in the Ringvaart Regatta. Student rowing association Thêta is sending several crews.


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